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Summary

There are three legal instruments in Egypt that prohibit human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labor: the Egyptian Constitution of 2014, Law No. 64 of 2010, and Law No. 126 of 2008.  In July 2007, the National Coordinating Committee on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking was established through Prime Ministerial Decree No. 1584 of 2007.  Government officials, including members of law enforcement agencies, have received a series of training courses on combating human trafficking.  Those training programs are delivered by experts appointed by the National Coordinating Committee on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking, which has also coordinated with international organizations.

I.  Legal Framework

There are three legal instruments in Egypt prohibiting the trafficking of women and children for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labor: the Egyptian Constitution of 2014, Law No. 64 of 2010 on Combating and Preventing Trafficking in Persons, and Law No. 126 of 2008 on Child Protection.  In 2015, a bill was also drafted to combat human smuggling.

Articles 80 and 89 of the Egyptian Constitution of 2014 prohibit trafficking in persons and exploiting women and children.  Article 80 requires the state to “provide children with care and protection from all forms of violence, abuse, mistreatment, and commercial and sexual exploitation.”[1]  Article 89 prohibits “all forms of slavery, oppression, [the] forced exploitation of human beings, [the] sex trade, and other forms of human trafficking.”[2]

Law No. 64 of 2010 prohibits all forms of human trafficking and exploitation that are prohibited in the UN’s 2000 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which was ratified by Egypt in March 2004.[3]  Article 2 of the Law prohibits both domestic and international trafficking of persons, and defines human trafficking to cover all forms of exploitation, including the sexual exploitation of women, forced labor, slavery, servitude, and the removal of human organs.[4]  Article 16 extends the Law’s jurisdiction to non-Egyptian citizens if

  • the crime was committed on board any means of transportation that was registered in Egypt;
  • one or more of the victims was Egyptian;
  • the preparation for the crime or its planning, direction, supervision, or financing occurred in Egypt;
  • the crime was committed by an organized criminal group engaged in a criminal activities in  more than one state, including Egypt;
  • the crime caused the harm of any Egyptian citizen or resident, or to the security or the interests of the Egyptian state; or
  • the individual who committed the crime in Egypt was located by foreign law enforcement authorities and not extradited.[5]

Article 1 of the Law also defines the trafficking victim as “a natural person who suffered any material or moral harm, in particular bodily, psychological or mental harm, or economic loss if the harm or loss was caused directly by one of the crimes stipulated in [Law No. 64].”[6]  Article 23 of the Law protects the rights of trafficking victims, including the right to safety and legal assistance during all stages of evidence collection, investigation, or trial proceedings.[7]  It is not clear whether the Law provides protection to foreign victims of trafficking.  According to article 26, the Egyptian authorities must provide care, education, training, and rehabilitation to Egyptian victims, with no mention being made of foreign victims.[8]

Law No. 126 of 2008 on child protection punishes individuals who violate the right of a child to be protected from trafficking and sexual, commercial, or economic exploitation.[9]  The Law penalizes individuals who buy or sell a child; offer a child for sale; deliver, accept, or transfer a child as a slave; exploit a child sexually, commercially, or through forced labor; or use the child for other illegal purposes, even if the crime is committed transnationally.  Such offenses are punishable by hard labor for a period of not less than five years and a fine of E£50,000–200,000 (approximately US$6,365–25,470).[10]

On September 6, 2015, an anti-human-smuggling bill was approved by the Egyptian National Security Committee (it has yet to become law).  The bill, drafted by the National Coordinating Committee on Preventing and Combatting Illegal Migration, calls for the punishment of smugglers facilitating undocumented migration into or out of Egypt with life imprisonment and fines of up to E£500,000 (approximately US$63,670).  The bill proposes a fund to assist refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, while holding the state responsible for protecting them.[11]

With respect to the implementation of the government’s anti-trafficking plan under Law No. 64 of 2010, the US State Department reports that in 2014 the Egyptian government did not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking or adequately address the needs of foreign trafficking victims.  Because many officials failed to systematically identify victims among vulnerable groups, victims were “routinely treated as criminals and punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subject to human trafficking.”[12]  In addition, the Egyptian authorities collected data in 2014 from district courts nationwide to gather information on trafficking cases over the previous five-year period to properly allocate training and prioritize anti-trafficking efforts.  As a result of this collection, twenty-seven potential trafficking investigations were conducted.  However, only fifteen prosecutions were initiated in 2014 under the 2010 anti-trafficking law, and no suspects were convicted.  Instead, according to the State Department, “many trafficking cases were settled out of court, failing to adequately punish offenders or serve as a sufficient deterrent to the commission of trafficking crimes.”[13]

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II.  Roles and Responsibilities of Government Agencies in Combating Human Trafficking

In July 2007, the National Coordinating Committee on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking was established through Prime Ministerial Decree No. 1584 of 2007.[14]  The Committee, composed of representatives from a number of government agencies,[15] focuses on four areas in its fight against human trafficking: the prevention of the crime, protection of victims, prosecution of offenders, and cooperation with international organizations and academic institutions.  In addition, the Committee is charged with preparing an annual report for the Council of Ministers concerning efforts to combat trafficking in persons and ensuring cooperation with the specialized office of the United Nations.[16]

After the passage of Law No. 64 of 2010, the National Coordinating Committee was reestablished by a new Prime Ministerial Decree, No. 2353 of 2010.[17] In December 2010, the Committee created an action plan for January 2011–January 2013 to combat human trafficking.[18] The action plan consists of four chapters that

  • discuss methods of raising public awareness, building law enforcement capacity, and combating the root causes of human trafficking;
  • deal with the personal safety of human trafficking victims and educate law enforcement officials on how to identify victims of trafficking;
  • describe measures that contribute to effective criminal prosecution of traffickers and build the capacity of law enforcement agencies to combat trafficking efficiently; and
  • discuss the strengthening of cooperation with international organizations and academic institutions on bilateral and multilateral levels.[19]

Prime Ministerial Resolution No. 239 of 2013 repealed Prime Ministerial Decree No. 2353 of 2010 and renamed the Committee as the National Coordinating Committee on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration.[20]  Article 2 of the Resolution granted the Committee the authority to develop plans and coordinate efforts to combat not only human trafficking but also illegal migration.[21]

In March 2014, a new independent committee was established by Prime Ministerial Resolution No. 380 of 2014 to focus only on combating and preventing illegal migration.  Thus, the objectives of the new committee are different from those of the anti-human-trafficking committee.[22]

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III. Training Programs Provided to Law Enforcement Agencies and Other Government Agencies

Since the passage of Law No. 64 of 2010, government officials, including members of law enforcement agencies, have received a series of training courses on combating human trafficking offered by experts appointed by the National Coordinating Committee on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking, including in coordination with international organizations, such as the International Organization of Migrations (IOM). US nonprofit organizations, such as the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), and foreign academic institutions, such as the Protection Project of Johns Hopkins University, have also provided training to groups in Egypt.

Workshops and training programs organized by the National Coordinating Committee have focused on enhancing victim protection, trafficking prevention, and criminal prosecution. The Committee coordinates with other government agencies to provide the training programs at their facilities, and also hires field experts to provide training sessions.[23]

In collaboration with the National Committee on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking, the IOM has sponsored a number of training programs over the past five years. The purpose of the training programs has been to raise awareness of the problem of human trafficking among risk communities, enhance victim identification, and strengthen the investigation and prosecution capacities of law enforcement agencies and the Prosecutor’s Office. The programs have targeted law enforcement officials, including representatives from the Ministry of Justice and Interior (responsible for domestic security), and community and religious leaders. The IOM staff has also trained diplomats and army officers in combating human trafficking in peace-keeping missions.[24]

In 2010, the International Research and Exchanges Board initiated a training program targeting journalists and editors to educate them about reporting on human trafficking in order to strengthen public awareness and protect potential victims. The program was funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State.[25]

Despite the ongoing training programs, the National Committee on Combating Human Trafficking has stated that those programs have not been sufficient, especially the programs targeting law enforcement officials.[26]  The State Department’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report also reached the same conclusion after evaluating the current anti-human-trafficking programs in the country. It stated that law enforcement officers lacked an understanding of Law No. 64 of 2010 and that they also need more training in effective investigations.[27]

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Prepared by George Sadek
Senior Legal Analyst
February 2016


[1] Constitution of 2014, art. 80, unofficial English translation available at http://www.sis.gov.eg/Newvr/Dustor-en001.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/Y4J8-Y6DD.

[2] Id. art. 89.

[3] Law No. 64 of 2010, 18 Al-Jarida Al-Rasmiyya (Duplicate), 9 May 2010, p. 5, English translation available at http://www.protectionproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Law_regarding_Combating_Human_Trafficking_ FINAL.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/DC6N-JKJY; Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, Nov. 15, 2000, 2237 U.N.T.S. 343, https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY &mtdsg_no=XVIII-12-a&chapter=18&lang=en (click “vol. 2237” under “Text”), archived at https://perma.cc/ W3M3-THJ9; Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children: Status, United Nations Treaty Collection, https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=IND&mtdsg_ no=XVIII-12-a&chapter=18&lang=en (last visited Feb. 11, 2016), archived at https://perma.cc/MW6H-FUC8.

[4] Law No. 64 of 2010, art.2.

[5] Id. art.16.

[6] Id. art.1

[7] Id. art. 23.

[8] Id. art. 26.

[9] Law No. 126 of 2008 Amending Penal Code No. 85 of 1937, art. 291, 24 Al-Jarida Al-Rasmiyya (Duplicate), 15 June 2008, unofficial English translation available at http://www.africanchildforum.org/clr/Legislation%20Per %20Country/Egypt/egypt_children_2008_en.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/S372-5JQ2.

[10] Id.

[11] Tom Rollins, Smugglers Could Face Life Sentence Under New Migration Bill, Mada Masr (Sept. 6, 2015), http://www.madamasr.com/news/smugglers-could-face-life-sentence-under-new-migration-bill, archived at https://perma.cc/X24A-9PCS.

[12] Egypt, in U.S. Department of State, 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report 148 (July 2015), http://www.state. gov/documents/organization/245365.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/WN3U-2YEN.

[13] Id.

[14] Prime Ministerial Decree No. 1584 of 15 July 2007, available on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at http://www.mfa.gov.eg/Arabic/Ministry/TraffickinginPersons/report/Documents/Unnamed.doc (in Arabic), archived at https://perma.cc/VU25-2JF6.

[15] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior (agency responsible for domestic security), Ministry of Defense, General Intelligence Service, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Social Solidarity, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Education, General Prosecution, National Council for Human Rights, National Council for Mother and Childhood, and National Council for Women.  Id.

[16] Id.

[17] Prime Ministerial Decree No. 2353 of 23 August 2010, http://www.mfa.gov.eg/Arabic/Ministry/Traffickingin Persons/committee/Documents/resource.doc (in Arabic), archived at https://perma.cc/AJD8-DPYC.

[18] National Coordinating Committee on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking, National Plan of Action Against Human Trafficking (January 2011–January 2013) (Dec. 2, 2010), available at http://www.ungift.org/doc/knowledgehub/resource-centre/Governments/Egypt_National_Action_Plan_2011-2013-en.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/CT8F-NWKS.

[19] Id.

[20] Prime Ministerial Resolution No. 239 of 12 March 2013, available at http://www.vetogate.com/387107 (in Arabic), archived at https://perma.cc/KXQ4-E769

[21] Id. art. 2.

[22] Prime Ministerial Resolution No. 380 of 9 March 2014, http://www.mfa.gov.eg/Arabic/InsideEgypt/economy indicator/Documents/New%20Doc%207%20%282%29.pdf (in Arabic), archived at https://perma.cc/VV4D-ZY2Z.

[23] The Protection Project, A Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children: Egypt, http://www.protectionproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Egypt.pdf (last visited Feb. 12, 2016), archived at https://perma.cc/6495-57F6.

[24] International Organization for Migration (IOM) Cairo, Combating Human Trafficking in Egypt: 2012 Fact Sheet, http://www.egypt.iom.int/Doc/Counter%20Trafficking%20Fact%20Sheet%20Egypt%20% 282012%29.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/96RM-35E3.

[25] IREX, Reporting on Human Trafficking: A Manual for Training Journalists and Editors in Egypt (Apr. 2010), https://www.irex.org/system/files/TOT.Reporting%20on%20TIP.Eng_..pdf, archived at https://perma. cc/ETX2-YUB7.

[26] National Coordinating Committee on Combating and Preventing Human Trafficking, Evaluating the Execution of the National Plan of Action Against Human Trafficking (January 2011–December 2013) 1 (Dec. 31, 2012), http://www.mfa.gov.eg/Arabic/InsideEgypt/economyindicator/Documents/Evaluating %20the%20Execution%20of%20the%20National%20Plan%20of%20Action%20Against%20Human%20Trafficking%20(January%202011-%20December%202013)[1].doc, archived at https://perma.cc/F4Q4-K8UC.

[27] U.S. Department of State, supra note 12, at 148.

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Last Updated: 03/18/2016